Bye Bye EU, Hello Belgrade

Out of the EU for the first time, a flimsy feeling at the border for the first time, the first noticeable border in general, our first contact with the police, but not really much of a culture clash.

Whenever we talk about going through Serbia, we get warnings on warnings, most of them a little bit biased: Be careful with the Serbians, keep track of your stuff, don’t be naive, don’t trust what they’re telling you. As soon as you cross the border, you’ll notice the drastic difference!

None of that proves to be true though, and while we are a little intimidated by the border itself, we don’t have any problems inside the country. Serbia is charming and exciting, and not too different from Hungary really – the streets are equally good (or bad), the supermarkets are modern and big, the villages are partly very tidy and clean, partly messy and dilapidated, but all really likable – nothing too out of the ordinary.

Until we come to Belgrade, that is. WOW!

A city that’s hard to put into words. After an exhausting 125km-day with countless hills we arrive in the evening, and Daniel immediately compares it to Istanbul (dunno, never been there). To get an impression of the city, drawing parallels isn’t a bad idea: a lot of the streets remind of Berlin. There’s the beloved Kreuzberg-Schöneberg-atmosphere with lots of nice bars, beer gardens, green alleys and cobblestone streets, reminding us of our city a thousand miles away (quite literally). The city is not beautiful at all, cause unlike the big cities of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Dresden, Belgrade doesn’t have any of the imposing buildings overlooking the streets. It has something way better: Authenticity. It just feels right. The slightly rainy weather somehow fit the picture, and, for a last comparison, Belgrade had a Bladerunner type “dirty future” vibe. Awesome.

Even though we stay for three nights, we aren’t able to dive into the nightlife of Belgrade, despite multiple recommendations. Oh well, maybe next time.

After powering through from the border to Belgrade in just two days, we’ll take it easy on the ca. 400 km to Sofia.